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20.09.2005 Health

More collaborative efforts needed to eradicate guinea worm - Miss Ghana

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Tamale, Sept.19, GNA - Miss Lamisi Mbillah, Miss Ghana 2005 has called for collaborative efforts among development partners and the Ministries of Health and Food and Agriculture to eradicate the guinea worm which has become an enemy of the agricultural sector and the national economy. She said much work needed to be done to rid the country of the disease and urged all and sundry in the two Ministries and their development partners to target 2007 as the year to make the country guinea worm free.

Miss Mbillah was addressing the Northern Regional Guinea Worm Eradication Programme Team in Tamale as part of her week-long sensitisation campaign programme on the eradication of guinea worm in the area.

She said, it was embarrassing for Ghana to be on the spotlight in the world as number one with guinea worm cases.

She said she has chosen to be the ambassador of the guinea worm capaign and had therefore, come to the region to lend her support to the eradication efforts of the Ministry of Health.

Dr. George Amofah, Director of Public Health Division of the Ministry of Health, who is accopanying Miss Ghana in the sensitisation campaign programme, said the Ministry was concerned about the guinea worm situation in the region and called on health workers to play their roles effectively to ensure the eradication of the disease.

He said top management of the Ministry had met in Kumasi recently to review the guinea worm eradication programme and other diseases that impact on public health and had decided to bless the Golden Jubilee celebration of Ghana's independence by eradicating guinea worm by 2007 He therefore, urged health workers to be part of the success or failure story of the guinea worm eradication programme.

Dr. Elias Sory, Regional Director of Health Services, said the region had now become endemic with guinea worm and called on Miss Mbillah to encourage stakeholders to pool resources towards its eradication. Miss Mbillah, who also paid a courtesy call on the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface told the Minister that she was in the region to sustain the momentum for the final move to eradicate the disease.

Alhaji Boniface said guinea worm was contributing immensely to the poverty levels of the people.

He described guinea worm as a disaster that needed the involvement of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) workers to sensitise the people in the communities on the eradication of the disease.

He said he was delighted that Miss Ghana was involved in the eradication efforts, and urged her to persuade the people to change their habits and practices and adopt the appropriate methods taught them by health workers to eliminate the disease.

Mr. Sylvester Adongo, Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, told Miss Ghana at a meeting with officials from the Ministry that guinea worm was not only impeding agricultural production, but was also bringing hardships to the families of those afflicted. He appealed to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to renew their relations with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture not only on the eradication of the guinea worm but also in the areas of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, rabies, anthrax and other diseases that were dangerous to public health.

He said: "for instance we may provide surface water for a community for the purposes of their animals and dry season gardening but health- wise, these water facilities would be sources of guinea worm and other water-borne diseases."

Miss Mbillah also visited the offices of the WHO and UNICEF as well as the Community Water and Sanitation Agency to acquaint herself with the operations of these organizations.

Mr. Abdulai Salifu, an Engineer with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, said the CWSA was working hard to provide potable water for the people to eradicate the guinea worm. He however, expressed concernthat out of the 207 boreholes the CWSA had provided, only 78 were successful, while 18 of them were marginal boreholes and attributed this to inadequate water on the ground. Sept. 19 05

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